Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What Is The Purpose of Your Lent?

What is the purpose of your Lent? Is it to test your self-control? Is it to challenge yourself to a duel of fuel limits? Is it just a game between you and sugar, or you and grains, or caffeine, or butter?  Is it a wound, or just a bloody finger (#gross?) ? Or is it more? Does it affect your prayer life? Lately, I've been thinking that Lent is whole lot like sheep shearing.

The sheep go into the shearer's hands, and they are probably a bit of a mess. They may have spots of dried mud, some briars or burrs, and definitely some mats in their lovely white wool.  They get into spots of trouble, when, all is interrupted, like little drunk lambs happily playing on a spring green pasture on a lovely, warm, sunny day.  But all it takes is some shears, and they emerge from the hands of the shearer, their wool is shorter, with a freshness and sheen that's enviable.

When we go into Lent, as Christians, we should prepare ourselves for some suffering.  It is a penitential season, and so, it should make us sigh and perhaps even groan when we stoop.  If you are anything like me, some trouble has come your way during this Christian season of Lent. Perhaps, like me, your washing machine broke, you got a flat tire, you got slapped in the face by your car door, you got sick, and you ran out of gas. Perhaps like my cousin visiting from Norway, your cell phone fell in the river and it took four cousins, a net, and the power of prayer to retrieve it. Perhaps you tried to make a favorite dinner, but at the last minute, realized you were out of a key ingredient. Cheese, maybe? Believe me, I know your pain, and I'm sorry. ;)

Whatever your troubles, take heart! You are not alone. We are all in this season together. However, if you are living out a purposeful Lent, your suffering has purpose, and it will also, in turn, reap great rewards!

Just like sheep in a shearer's hands, we are in God's hands. The purpose is a purification, of sorts. God longs to take our burrs, briars, and spots of mud and in their place, give us a clean and fresh start. It begins on Easter Sunday and continues on for fifty days!

For Lent this year, I gave up something that was really hard for me. That would b:e all social media channels on the weekends (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram).  In return, I got lots of new ideas, a break from the traps that can often come from these technological advances, as well as a few lessons in self-control and time management.

As you experience the last few weeks of Lent, I pray that you would see redemptive suffering and the chance to "offer it up,"as one stop on the highway to God's ultimate goal for your life: Salvation from sins, and purification from the filth that can penetrate our hearts and slowly kill us. I pray that you would see the purpose of your Lent, and that it would be fruitful.

Easter isn't just bunnies and flowers and sheep, or lambs.  It is a time to celebrate rebirth, and renewal. It is a time to stop, and be thankful for newness of life and the chance to grow and develop into something more, and something deeper.  Ultimately, it is a resurrection in our hearts, with Christ, as we are slowly but surely united to him in our suffering and in our purification.

Questions or comments? I welcome both. ;)
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